-Says Judge Sammy
Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge Nancy Sammy has refused to accept a request by government’s lawyers (prosecution) to postpone the ongoing US$1.3M alleged theft case that involves two Lebanese nationals, Salah and his son Tamer Farhat, arguing that their principal witness, Ezzat Eid, is sick and has travelled out of the country for medical treatment.
Meanwhile, the state lawyers have filed a Writ of Certiorari before the Supreme Court, asking it to review the decision of Judge Sammy.
Eid and Salah were both partners and they established Toya Motors Liberia, of which Eid holds 65 percent share, while Salah holds the remaining 35 percent share.
In her challenged denial judgement, Judge Sammy explained that, even though the prosecution has alleged its principal witness, Ezzat Eid, has travelled out of the bailiwick of the country for medical treatment, notwithstanding, they failed and neglected to attach medical certificate to the postponement request from any medical facility to indicate Eid is sick and needed to travel out of the country for further medical treatment.
In her quick assertion, Sammy said, her court sees the request about Eid traveling out of the country for medical purposes as a “mere assertion that is not supported by any evidence.”
Besides, she said, assuming that Ezzat Eid is sick and is seeking medical treatment out of the country, “the question is, why can’t the prosecution produce the other witnesses as named in the indictment to take the stand and testify in these proceedings while awaiting the arrival of Eid?”
Judge Sammy said the indictment (charge) that brought the Farhats under the jurisdiction of the court named ten witnesses, one of which is Ezzat Eid, to testify for and on behalf of the prosecution.
She wondered, in the face of the ten witnesses named, as contained in the indictment, how then can the prosecution proffer an argument that the court should defer the hearing of the matter simply because of one of its witnesses’ absence from the bailiwick of this country on an alleged medical treatment or examination?
She indicated that the prosecution is aware of criminal proceedings or trial in which the defendant or defendants are entitled to a speedy trial.
The judge further said she had observed from the record that the prosecution had initially petitioned the court for a Writ of ‘Ne Exeat Republica’ against the Farhats, which was granted and the Farhats have been ordered not to travel out of the bailiwick of the country.
“As we all know,” Judge Sammy’s ruling said, “This is Christmas season and the individual would love to be with their family.” She, however, said the Farhats have been denied that right as per the order issued by her predecessor, upon the request of the government, as contained in the writ, “preventing the Farhats from travelling out of the country, but the government’s principal witness is out of the bailiwick of this country without any proof thereof. The court sees this as a gross violation of the rights of the Farhats,” Sammy declared, adding,” therefore, the motion is hereby denied and this case is hereby ordered to be proceeded with for trial.”
Before Judge Sammy’s ruling, the defense team had argued that even though the prosecution has asserted that its principal witness, Eid, is sick and has travelled out of the country for medical treatment, they have, however, failed to attach a medical certificate to indicate that he needed to travel out of Liberia for further treatment.
The defense team also argued that Eid’s absence should not prevent the commencement of the trial of the case, because there are other witnesses contained in the indictment and that any of those witnesses should be made to take the witness stand to testify, pending the return of Mr. Eid.
In their indictment, the prosecution claimed that between the periods of 2011 up to and including 2018, Salah Farhat and Eid have been friends and members of the World Lebanese Cultural Union of Liberia and, when Eid served as president, Salah was a member of the organization’s executive committee.
During that period, the court record alleges that Eid visited China and developed an interest in the importation and selling of Chinese-manufactured vehicles on the Liberian market.
Based upon the relationship, coupled with Farhat’s experience in this line of business, Eid provided the funds to establish a partnership enterprise with Salah, and they both established Toya Motors Liberia, of which Eid holds 65 percent share, while Salah holds the remaining 35 percent share.
They agreed that Salah’s monthly remuneration for his services as managing partner of Toya Motors should be US$2,000, while Salah’s son, Tamer, who assisted his father in the running of the affairs of the business, would receive US$1,000 monthly.
Contrary to the agreement, between the partners of Toya Motors, the document alleges that from February 1, 2016, up to February 28, 2018, the defendants increased their monthly salaries to US$5,000 without the knowledge and approval of majority owners, Eid.
Eid also claims that the Farhats were involved in several other fraudulent activities that cost the company to lose US$1.3 million
Eid further alleges that Salah used his company’s money to establish another company named Cedar Motors Inc, which is currently engaged in the importation, sale and distribution of Chinese-manufactured vehicles in the country.
However, the Farhats have so far denied the allegation.